As a schoolgirl, Betty was told by her teacher that a working-class black girl would never succeed within the academic field or achieve the heights which she aspired to. And so, she proved them wrong.
In 1960, Betty enrolled at Cardiff Teacher Training College, one of only six female students to be accepted. On completing her course, she went on to teach at Mount Stuart Primary school, doing so for 28 years.
It was here where she became Wales’ first black head teacher, and began teaching the children about slavery, black history and the system of apartheid which operated at the time in South Africa. Her work was so significant, that on the only visit he ever paid to Wales, Nelson Mandela himself sought Betty out to give her proper recognition. It was thanks to the work that Betty did that Mount Stuart Primary School became a template for multicultural education in the UK.
Following her teaching career, she went on to become an independent councillor to Butetown, a board member for BBC Wales, a member of the Home Office’s Race Advisory Committee, and a member of the Commission for Racial Equality. In each role, her influence on public life in the UK grew, as she played an important part in critical conversations on race and equality.
Following her death in 2017, a monument honouring the life of Betty Campbell was unveiled in Cardiff. It’s believed to be Wales’ first statue of a named, non-fictional woman in an outdoor public space, and acknowledges Betty as a true icon in black history.